I found this on John Hollister's page, he said he found it on someone else's... I thought it was good to read, and repost.
"Until recent times, every child had a rifle of his own as soon as he was old enough to understand his father’s instructions. With it he hunted game and birds, killed snakes and protected himself against the dangers of rural life. When he was grown, he passed knowledge of the
rifle down to his own son.
The rifle was honored in the home. It graced the mantel, the wall, or rested above the door. It was near at hand, clean, loaded, accurate as a fine watch, ready for service. The tradition of arms is an American tradition born of generations of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and independence – independence not in theory, but in fact; independence that rested upon individual shoulders of each member of society; independence bought of self-denial, sacrifice, and personal courage. It was not permissive. It was not necessary to ask if it were legal, or all right, or moral; this was an independence that rose out of the man himself and was of himself alone.
Such was the tradition of a free society. A society free to guard its own possessions and protect its own kith and kin; free to rush from humble dwellings to restore law and order, to exact justice, or to stop an invader of the homeland. In this, the rifle was the key. It was part of America; it was part of the man. It stood beside him. The rifle was a part of the saddle of the Western cowboy, and it is still there. The rifle was in the possession of every weary wagon in the long trains that plodded slowly across the plains and prairies. It was in the California gold fields and beside the thin blanket of the prospector as he slept on the icy ground. It was in the canoe, the longboat, the paddle-wheel steamer; it was on the rafts that drifted down America’s broad, muddy rivers. The rifle was known and loved by the Indian, who did not meet it soon enough. It was the tool of the buffalo hunter and the cook of the range camp, the rustler and the claim jumper and the highwayman.
The rifle was the symbol of life, and of death. It was a symbol of the law and the lawman, and it was often the judge and jury from whom there was no appeal. Other than the rope, the rifle was the most important single factor in American life for many generations. Together the rifle and rope stood for justice until towns and cities brought the compassion of the church and the court and the psychiatrist’s couch.
The rifle and rope kept men and cattle and horses and homes and wagons and industry and the nation together in a day when the enemy was sometimes behind the nearest tree – and the nearest neighbor was a day’s ride through virgin forests.
The rifle is still the steadfast friend of the American. He has not forgotten it. Its cold royalty courses through veins of men who have never touched its warm stock, or felt its reassuring slap against the shoulder. When these young hands – these hands that do not know the good and loyal friend – grasp it in introduction and feel its weight and see its efficient build and handsome profile, there will be a meeting of minds. These friends, they will recognize each other as Americans, old Americans, trustworthy Americans of great heritage.
Should there be another war, and should there be only two men left, it will be the rifle that decides who has conquered the world and who shall be able to retain it. And if there should be another war and the world is engulfed by forces that overwhelm men and reduce them to slavery, it will be the rifle that breaks their chains and restores human dignity. For the rifle is the force of the common man, as the bow and arrow were in earlier times, and the spear and the rock were in the beginning. It is the voice of the endangered, lonely man with his back against the wall and his whole future before him. With the rifle, Americans defeated the most powerful nation of the world and became free. With it, they will retain freedom." - T. Grady Gallant, On Valor's Side